Updated: Jun 16, 2021
By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
Ricotta is the ancient kind of Italian cheese and is considered one of the prime frugal peasant foods.
The name ricotta is derived from the Latin word recocta (ricotta in Italian), meaning "re-cooked or cooked twice."
This peasant food made by shepherds became a popular food to serve important guests.
Ricotta is also an healthy light cheese because it is made of whey, which makes it naturally low-fat.
This simple, fresh cheese is very versatile because it has a sweet and salty soul. You can enjoy it in cannelloni, ravioli, on bread, and as a pasta topping. It's also perfect for cake filling, cannoli, and is divine with sugar and just a sprinkle of coffee powder.
You can make ricotta at home to taste all the freshness of this fantastic cheese. You need only a clean, white cotton or linen cloth, whole milk, and some drops of lemon!
Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1 quart (1 liter) whole cow's milk (don't use ultra-pasturized)
3 Tbls of lemon juice or good white vinegar
Line a colander with a moistened cheese-cloth and set it over a large bowl.
In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a gentle boil. Add 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook over low heat, stirring gently, until curds form and rise to the surface.
Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes; the curds will firm up slightly.
Using a slotted spoon with small holes, gently scoop the curds into the colander; discard the liquid.
Let the ricotta drain for 15 minutes, then gently lift the cheesecloth to flip the curd and let drain for 15 minutes longer.
Transfer the ricotta to a bowl and season with salt.
Ricotta can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), The Grimore, The Magic of the Moon, and Magic Herbs (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).